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The Independent State of Samoa is a peaceful parliamentary democracy with a proud history of free press, an independent judiciary, and a strong record of protecting human rights. It has a population of approximately 200,000 and a nominal GDP of USD 844 million. Samoa became the 155th member of the World Trade Organization in May 2012, and it is a member of the Commonwealth. Samoa is experiencing a deep recession due in large part to the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the World Bank downgraded Samoa’s classification to “lower-middle income” from its previous status as an “upper-middle income” country.

Samoa is one of the most politically and economically stable democratic island countries in the Pacific. Following a months-long peaceful political impasse, Samoa experienced its first political transition in almost 40 years in 2021 and Fiame Naomi Mata’afa became Samoa’s first-ever female prime minister.

Samoa is located south of the equator, about halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand in the Polynesian region of the Pacific Ocean. Samoa’s total land area is 1,097 square miles, consisting of the two main islands of Upolu and Savai’i, which account for 99 percent of the total land area, and eight small islets. About 80 percent of land is customary land, owned by villages, with the remainder either freehold or government owned. Customary land can be leased, but not sold.

In the past decade, Samoa has taken steps to align its systems more closely with nations in the Southern Hemisphere and Asia. Samoans drove on the right side of the road (like the United States) until 2009, at which time the country shifted to driving on the left side as done in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. Until 2011, Samoa was located east of the international dateline in the same time zone as Hawaii but is now one of the first countries in the world to start each day.

The small island country has experienced catastrophic natural disasters, including a 2009 earthquake and tsunami that killed hundreds, and severe cyclones in 2012 and 2018. These calamities have inflicted damage equivalent to a quarter of Samoa’s GDP, representing significant setbacks to the economy.

In February 2021, the Central Bank of Samoa stated that the country’s economy was in full recession as the impact of COVID-19 global pandemic affected all sectors. From a peak in 2019, Samoa’s GDP contracted by over 7.5 percent in real terms through the end of 2021. The recession was caused by declines in tourism, business services, transport, and the communications sector. Samoa’s government understands that that its economy needs external investment and is generally welcoming of FDI.

The service sector accounts for nearly three-quarters of GDP and employs approximately 65 percent of the formally employed labor force. Pre-COVID-19, tourism was the largest single activity. The government shut Samoa’s borders from March 2020 until August 2022 in response to the pandemic and tourism is yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2022 N/A
Global Innovation Index 2022 N/A
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2021 USD 20M
World Bank GNI per capita 2021 USD 3,810

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Samoa welcomes business and investors. Samoa’s fertile soil, English-speaking and educated workforce, and tropical climate offer advantages to focused investors, though the country’s distance from major markets affects the cost of imports and exports. Historically the main productive sectors of the economy are agriculture and tourism, and the economy depends heavily on overseas remittances.

For investors, Samoa offers a trained, productive, and industrially adaptable work force that communicates well in English; competitive wage rates; free repatriation of capital and profits; well-developed, reasonably priced transport infrastructure, telecommunications, water supply, and electricity; a stable financial environment; relatively low corporate and income taxes; and a pleasant and safe lifestyle.

All businesses in the greater Apia area have access to broadband and Wi-Fi, which is reasonably reliable and fast, but relatively expensive. In rural Upolu and on Savaii Island there is limited availability of high-speed internet, but reliable Wi-Fi through personal mobile routers is universal. In 2018, Samoa completed the installation of a National Broadband Highway which provides fiber optic data services and 4G LTE cellular data speeds to the entire country. 4G LTE data speeds are operative and commercially available nationwide.

Foreign Investors are permitted 100 percent ownership in all different sectors of industry except for as below.

The following businesses are reserved for Samoan Citizens only:
1.Bus transport services for the general public;
2.Taxi transport services for the general public;
3.Rental vehicles;
5.Saw milling; and
6.Traditional elei garment designing and printing.

The following businesses are subject to certain ownership restrictions:
4.Sanitation and similar services.

Please see Samoa’s Foreign Investment Amendment Act 2011 for a more detailed Reserved List and Restricted List: .

The Investment Promotion division of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Labor (MCIL) provides information about investing and doing business in Samoa: .

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign investors are permitted 100 percent ownership in all different sectors of the industry except for conditions for restricted activities listed above.

Please see Samoa’s Foreign Investment Amendment Act 2011 for a more detailed Reserved List and Restricted List at: 

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The World Trade Organization conducted a Trade Policy review of Samoa in 2019: .

The IMF’s regular Article IV reports are available at: .

Samoa’s latest national investment policy statement can be found here: .

The Strategy for the Development of Samoa can be found here: .

Samoa’s Sector Plans are available here: .

Business Facilitation

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labor (MCIL) administers Samoa’s foreign investment policy and regulations ( ). To open a branch of an existing corporation in Samoa, one must register the company for about USD 100. For a company to qualify as a “Samoan company,” the majority of shareholders must be Samoan. The fee to register an overseas company is about USD 115. All businesses with foreign shareholdings must obtain and hold valid foreign investment registration certificates. The application fee is about USD 50 and can be obtained by contacting MCIL. Certificates are valid until the business terminates activity. If a business does not commence activity within two years after a certificate is issued, the certificate becomes invalid. Upon approval of the FIC, the foreign investor is then required to apply for a business license before operating in Samoa. Fees range from USD 100-USD 250, depending on the type of business.

Land has a special status in Samoa, as it does in most Pacific Island countries. Under the country’s land classification system, about 80 percent of all land is customary land, owned by villages, with the remainder either freehold (private) or government owned. The standard method for obtaining customary land, which cannot be bought or sold, is through long-term leases that must be negotiated with the local communities. A typical lease for business use might be for 30 years, with the option of a further 30 years after that, but longer terms can be negotiated. It should be noted that customary land cannot be mortgaged, and thus cannot be used as collateral to raise capital or credit. Freehold land, mostly based in and around Apia, can be bought, sold and mortgaged. Only Samoan citizens may buy freehold land unless approval is obtained from Samoa’s Head of State.

The Foreign Investment Amendment Act 2011 is the preeminent legislation on foreign investment: .

Business Registration 

  • Step 2: Obtain a business license and register for VAGST and PAYE from the Ministry of Revenue. 

  • Step 3: Register with the National Provident Fund. 

  • Step 4: Register with the Accident Compensation Corporation. 

Many parts of these registrations can be done online, but some may require payment in person.

MCIL has an Investment Promotion and Industry Development Division (IPIDD) with services available to all investors: .

Samoa’s Ministry of Revenue only distinguishes between small/medium enterprises (less than USD 400,000 in annual turnover) and large enterprises (over USD 400,000 in annual turnover). Priority service is given to large enterprises.

Outward Investment

There is minimal outward investment from Samoa beyond several stationery and apparel stores having branches in New Zealand and American Samoa. The government and economy are more focused on increasing exports of Samoan products. The government does not appear to restrict investment abroad.

Pacific Islands Trade and Invest ( ) is a resource for companies looking to establish themselves overseas.

Samoa is not party to any bilateral investment or bilateral taxation treaties.

Samoa is a Party to the Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus which entered into force December 2020. PACER Plus is a regional trade, development, and economic cooperation agreement to facilitate regional trade and promote economic cooperation and partnerships; promote a stable and predictable environment to progressively remove barriers to trade; and support sustainable economic development.

There are ten Parties to the PACER Plus Agreement: Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Kiribati, Niue, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu). A PACER Plus Implementation Unit was established in Samoa in 2021 to implement the Agreement’s Development and Economic Cooperation Work Program.

In 2009, the EU, Fiji and PNG negotiated and signed an Interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EU-Pacific IEPA) to secure market access for sugar and canned fish to the EU. The EPA negotiation have been suspended. In December 2018, Samoa acceded to the EU-Pacific IEPA to secure duty-free access of exports to the EU following the expiration of preferences for Samoa under the EU’s Everything But Arms (EBAs) scheme for Least Developed Countries (LDC).

As part of the United Kingdom’s preparations to exit the European Union, the UK sought to develop new trade agreements to replicate, as far as possible, the provisions of existing EU trade arrangements. In 2019, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and UK negotiated and signed the UK- Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) to maintain trade with the Pacific. The Agreement replicates the Pacific-EU Interim EPA through the elimination of tariffs and entered into force January 2021. Samoa acceded to the agreement with effect from March 31, 2022..

Transparency of the Regulatory System

The Government uses transparent policies and effective laws to establish “clear rules of the game.” Accounting, legal and regulatory procedures are all consistent with international norms. According to the Samoa Institute of Accountants, businesses adhere to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) and International Standards on Auditing and Quality Assurance.

Draft bills are made available through the parliamentary website, , but are not made available for formal public comment. Those who wish to make a comment on the bill are given the opportunity to do so before a Parliamentary Committee. Public notices are televised and printed on local newspaper for the awareness of the public that there is an avenue to voice their opinions on drafted Government policies.

The Office of the Regulator (OOTR) was established in 2006 under the Telecommunications Act 2005 to provide regulatory services for the telecommunications sector in Samoa. However, the Broadcasting and Postal Services Acts 2010 also provide regulatory framework for broadcasting and postal sectors in Samoa. These Acts require the Regulator to establish a fair, unbiased, and ethical regime for implementing the objects of these Acts including licensing of telecommunications, broadcasting and postal services, promotion of new services and investment, consumer protection, prevention of anti-competitive activities by service providers, and management of the radio spectrum and national number plans. OOTR also approves the Electric Power Corporation’s Power Purchase Agreements with Independent Power Providers and reviews EPC’s Power Extension Plan.

Finances and expenditures of the government are published twice on an annual basis, and available through the parliament website. Debt obligations are published on a quarterly basis by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics through its quarterly reports.

International Regulatory Considerations

Samoa is a member of the Pacific Islands Forum, which is an 18-member inter-governmental organization that aims to enhance cooperation between the independent countries of the Pacific Ocean.

Samoa’s system of government is based on the Westminster Parliamentary system. Samoa’s Companies Act 2001 contains a modern regulatory regime based on New Zealand company law.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

The Samoan legal system has its foundations in English and Commonwealth statutory and common law. Various business structures utilized in common law are recognized: sole traders, partnerships, limited liability companies, joint ventures, and trusts (including unit trusts). These structures are regulated by legislation including the Companies Act 2001, Partnership Act 1975, Trustee Act 1975, and Unit Trusts Act 2008. Samoa’s Companies Act 2001 contains a modern regulatory regime based on New Zealand company law. It allows the incorporation of a sole person company (i.e., one person being both shareholder and director) and directors need not be resident in Samoa.

A Samoa incorporated private company is a separate legal entity and a corporation under Samoan law. It must file an annual return with the Registrar of Companies specifying details of directors, shareholders, registered office etc. There is no requirement for private companies to file annual financial reports with the Companies Registry nor are there any minimum capital requirements.

The judicial system is largely independent from the executive branch. In December 2020, the National Parliament passed into law three controversial bills that fundamentally changed country’s constitution and judicial system. The three bills, the Constitution Amendment Bill, Lands and Titles Bill, and Judicature Bill, were passed by Parliament with a vote of 41-4. The bills were opposed by the judiciary and the Samoa Law Society for lack of consultation and the impact on human rights and rule of law. The Australian and New Zealand Law Societies, and other international organizations issued statements in support of the judiciary and the law society. The new laws have in effect divided the judicial system into parallel courts of equal standing: one to deal with criminal and civil matters, and the other with customary land and titles. There are outstanding questions about the constitutionality of the new laws.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Labor administers Samoa’s foreign investment policy and regulations under the Foreign Investment Amendment Act 2011. All businesses with any foreign ownership require foreign investment approval by MCIL. ( ).

Competition and Antitrust Laws

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Labor’s Fair Trading and Codex Alimentarius Division (FTCD) handles competition related concerns. The main pieces of legislation regarding competition are the Fair Trading Act 1998, the Consumer Information Act 1989, and the Measures Ordinance 1960.

Expropriation and Compensation

Samoa’s constitution prohibits expropriation without compensation, and expropriation cases in Samoa are rare. There was one significant case that occurred in 2009 over land designated for a new six-story government building. A business signed a 20-year lease with the government in 2005 but was then asked to move in 2008 to make way for the new building. The business moved but won a settlement in the Court of Appeals against the government for a much larger sum than the government initially offered the business for vacating the land.

Dispute Settlement

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2007 (amended 2013) outlines ADR procedures for both criminal and civil proceedings. Samoa has an Accredited Mediators of Samoa Association that was put in place to help resolve (largely commercial) disputes.

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Samoa has been party to the ICSID since 1978. Samoa is not party to the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

The provisions of the Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013 have full effect in relation to disputes that involve foreign investors in Samoa. Foreign investors are subject to this Act.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution Act 2007 also provides alternative dispute resolution procedures where civil or criminal cases may arise.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

The provisions of the Arbitration Act 1976 have full effect in relation to disputes that involve foreign investors in Samoa. Subject to this Act and to any other law in Samoa, the Convention Settlement of Investment Disputes signed in Washington on the 3rd of February 1978 and ratified by Samoa on the 25th of April 1978, has the force of law in Samoa. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Act 2007 also provides alternative dispute resolution procedures where civil or criminal cases may arise.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Bankruptcies are governed by the Samoa Bankruptcy Act of 1908, which gives broad rights to the judiciary to issue orders related the property of any debtor or bankrupt who becomes subject to the Act. The judiciary has the authority to decide all questions of priorities.

Investment Incentives

Samoa’s government is very reluctant to provide government guarantees or financing for projects. In rare circumstances, the government may provide land for certain business projects, or be instrumental in securing land of interest.

The Industry Development and Investment Promotion Division (IDIPD) under MCIL administers several schemes designed to assist businesses that produce for overseas and domestic markets. Such schemes offer duty concessions on imported goods for the tourism and manufacturing industries and income tax exemptions for up to five years for hotel operators.

The government does not offer incentives for clean energy investments.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Samoa does not have any Free Trade Zones, Duty Free Zones, Special Economic Zones, or areas with special tax treatment.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

In order to hire a non-Samoan citizen for a job, one must prove that the required skillset is not available through the local labor force.

There is no forced localization in terms of goods or technology.

There is no forced localization of data other than the industry exceptions outlined in the Intellectual Property section below.

Real Property

Leasing of Land: In accordance with the Alienation of Customary Land Act 1965 and the Alienation of Freehold Land Act 1972, land may be leased for up to 30 years renewable once in the case of land leased or licensed for industrial purposes or a hotel and 20 years renewable once in the other cases.

Land holdings and ownership in Samoa fall into three (3) categories:

These lands are not for sale but can be leased out to foreigners as well as locals. All leased lands in this category are registered with the Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment. In case of dispute, ownership is decided by the Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration.

2. Public Land
The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources administers the database of Government land available for lease. Applications for leasing of land should be submitted to the Chairman of the Samoa Land Board.

3. Freehold Land
Freehold land cannot be sold or leased to someone who is not a citizen of Samoa, except with the proper consent of the Head of State.

Intellectual Property Rights

Samoa is not on USTR’s Special 301 list or the Notorious Markets Report.

Samoa has legislation protecting patents, utility models, designs, and trademarks. Enforcement is moderate.

To protect and safeguard intellectual property in Samoa, the Government has passed the following laws:

a) Copyrights Act 1998 – applies to work including books, pamphlets, articles,
computer programs, speeches, lectures, musical works, audiovisual, works of
architecture etc.

b) Intellectual Property Act 2013 – for the registration and enforcement of rights of
owners of Trademarks, Patents, Industrial designs, GI, and Plant varieties.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at 

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The capital market is regulated by the Central Bank of Samoa (CBS). Since January 1998, the Central Bank has implemented monetary policy by issuing its own Securities using market-based techniques – commonly known as Open Market Operations (OMO). CBS Securities are the predominant monetary policy instrument, which is issued to influence the amount of liquidity in the financial system.

Capital markets in Samoa are in their infancy with the Unit Trust of Samoa (UTOS) domestic market established in 2010, and no international stock exchange.

Samoa has accepted the obligations of IMF Article VIII, Sections 2, 3, and 4, and maintains an exchange system that is free of restrictions on payments and transfers for current international transactions.

Money and Banking System

Samoa is well-served with banking and finance infrastructure. It has four commercial banks, complimented by a dynamic development bank. The sector is regulated by the Central Bank of Samoa. The largest banks are regional operators ANZ and BSP, which offer a wide range of services based upon electronic banking platforms. Although they service all markets, they tend to dominate the top-end, encompassing corporate, government and high net worth individuals. Samoa is still a cash-based society, however, and this has enabled two locally owned entrants, the National Bank of Samoa and Samoa Commercial Bank, to each garner double-digit market share, despite entering the market quite recently.

The banking sector appears relatively healthy.

With its International Finance Centre (Samoa International Finance Authority – SIFA)—the first Pacific center to be white-listed by the OECD—and a well-structured financial services sector, Samoa is well placed to service the needs of both local and offshore businesses.

The Government, through the Central Bank, has been largely resistant of block chain technologies. Their skepticism is somewhat warranted with the discovery of several cryptocurrency schemes operating in the country widely believed to be scams.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

The Central Bank of Samoa (CBS) controls all foreign exchange transactions as well as matters relating to monetary stability and supply of money within the country. This includes international transactions, overseas transfer of funds and funding of imports, and registration of insurance companies. Repatriation of overseas capital and profits is normally permitted provided the original investment entered Samoa through the banking system or in an otherwise formally approved manner. Investors also have the freedom to repay principal and interest on foreign loans raised for the purpose of the investment and the freedom to pay fees to foreign parties for the use of intellectual property rights.

Transfers of currency are protected by Article VII of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Articles of Agreement ( ).

Remittance Policies

Repatriation of capital and profit remittances on foreign capital is permitted, although it must be approved by the CBS based on submission of necessary documents, such as the following:

a) Application letter explaining the request;
b) Audited accounts relating to the profit remittance year(s) requested;
c) A copy of the Authorized Directors’ Resolution approving the specified dividend payment; and
d) Confirmation of any associated tax payments to the Ministry of Customs and Revenue (MCR).

Sovereign Wealth Funds

There is no sovereign wealth fund or asset management bureau in Samoa. The country has the Samoa National Provident Fund which manages and invests members’ savings for their retirement.

Private enterprises are allowed to compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions. Laws and rules do not offer preferential treatment to SOEs. State-owned enterprises are subject to budget constraints, and these are enforced.

SOEs are active in the Energy, Water, Tourism, Aviation, Banking, Agriculture supplies, and Ports/Airports sectors. Laws do not provide for a leading role for SOEs or limit private enterprise activity in sectors in which SOEs operate. SOEs have government-appointed boards and operate with varying degrees of autonomy with respect to their governing Ministry.

SOEs follow a normal corporate structure with a board of directors and executive management. All SOEs have boards of directors who are appointed by a cabinet minister. Some SOEs have board seats allocated specifically to the heads of certain government ministries.

By law SOEs are required to present financials to their board of directors, shareholding Ministry and the National Auditor. Timely compliance, however, varies between SOEs.

Privatization Program

Samoa does not have an active privatization program. The most recent major privatizations in Samoa were in broadcasting (2008) and telecommunications (2011), both resulting in significant gains in efficiency and benefits to both producer and consumer. The 2011 telecommunications privatization was to a foreign company.

Procedures for establishing all businesses are provided under existing legislation, including the Companies Amendment Act 2006, the Foreign Investment Amendment Act 2011, the Business License Act 1998, the Labour and Employment Relations Act 2013, the Central Bank Act and Guidelines, and the Health Ordinance 1959 (Part 11, 111 clause 13 & 15).

There is a general awareness of responsible business conduct (RBC) among both producers and consumers, and foreign and local enterprises are expected to follow generally accepted RBC principles such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Firms that pursue RBC are viewed favorably but consumers generally prioritize value for money ahead of RBC claims.

The government fairly enforces domestic laws and protects human rights. The government encourages local enterprises to follow generally accepted RBC principals.

There are no extractive industries in Samoa.

Additional Resources

Department of State

Department of the Treasury

Department of Labor

Climate Issues

Samoa’s Nationally Determined Contribution – available at  – provides the basis for the country’s climate strategy. Samoa’s NDC recognizes that the island nation is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its geographic location and its economic reliance on fisheries, agriculture, and tourism. The NDC states that Samoa is already experiencing higher average temperatures, greater frequency in extreme rainfall events, sea level rise, and increases in ocean acidification and coastal erosion.

Per its NDC, Samoa aims to reduce its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent in 2030 as compared to 2007 levels. As part of its adaptation plan, Samoa aims to expand the area of mangrove forests by five percent by 2030 (relative to 2018), expand the area under agroforestry by five percent by 2030 (relative to 2018), and increase total forest cover by two percent by 2030 (relative to 2013). Samoa developed Community Integrated Management (CIM) Plans to identify prioritized adaption plans for each of Samoa’s 368 villages. Samoa’s contribution to the world’s greenhouse gases is negligible.

Samoa’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment also released a Climate Change Policy in 2020, available at . The policy aims to improve coordination of climate change work in the country and enhance cooperation and collaboration between government and all stakeholders.

The government does not specify legally binding expectations on private sector contributions to achieving relevant targets and goals, but the government is very focused on climate-friendly policies and any project that depends on government support or approval would benefit from climate-friendly practices. Public procurement practices may include environmental and green growth considerations. The government does not formally offer regulatory incentives for climate-friendly policies.

With limited domestic resources, Samoa’s government is explicit that its climate goals cannot be achieved without external financing.

Samoa ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention in 2018. It is not signatory to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery. Corruption has not been specifically identified as an obstacle to foreign investment. Both corruption and bribery are criminalized and prosecuted, and the laws appear to be impartially applied.

The Office of the Ombudsman is charged with investigating official corruption. There are no international, non-governmental “watchdog” organizations represented locally. Samoa was not assessed by the Transparency International’s CPI report 2022 report.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:

Ms. Luamanuvao Katalaina Sapolu
Level 2, SNPF Plaza, Savalalo
P. O. BOX 3036 Apia, Samoa
(685) 25394 

Contact at a “watchdog” organization:

UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC)
Bangkok, Thailand
+66 2 288 2100 

Samoa is a peaceful parliamentary democracy with no history of politically motivated violence or civil disturbance. The risk of civil disorder is low. There is no civil strife or insurrection. There are no significant border disputes at risk of escalating into conflict. Law and order are well maintained by the Samoa Police Service with support from the village chiefs and other traditional/church authorities if required. There are no examples of politically motivated damage to projects or installations in recent years.

Samoa experienced a measles epidemic in 2019 and the government implemented strict border closures from 2020 until 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Both severely affected local business with varying degrees of cessation of economic activity. Samoa has demonstrated that it will take extreme measures to prevent loss of life, even at the expense of massive economic losses.

The 2021 Census placed the total workforce (people 15-64 years of age) at 114,929 people. Although the government does not release regular unemployment figures, only about 12 percent of the population – 24,269 people – were registered as employed in the formal sector in the quarter ended December 31, 2022.

Wages and salaries are comparatively low. Private sector minimum wage is roughly USD 1.11 an hour.

Local skilled labor is available in sufficient quantities to undertake most types of building work, except for some specialized skills and supervisory-level manpower, which is recruited locally and from abroad. To hire foreign workers, one must provide MCIL and Samoan immigration with justification that the position cannot be filled locally. This process is viewed as fair and straightforward.

Samoan First Union, the country’s only private sector union, was officially launched in 2015. It is an extension of the New Zealand-based First Union. One of their major pushes was for a WST 3 (USD 1.11) minimum wage, which was achieved in 2019.

Collective bargaining in the private sector is allowed, but not common in Samoa. The Labor and Employment Relations Act 2013, the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 2014, and the Labor and Employment Relations Regulations 2015 are the most current pieces of labor legislation, all of which meet core international standards.

Labor laws are not waived to attract new investment.

More information can be found through Samoa’s Child Labor Report

DFC insurance is available to investors in Samoa, and OPIC can provide political risk insurance, finance, direct loans, and loan guarantees. There are currently no DFC-funded projects in Samoa.

The registry of insurance companies in Samoa is kept and maintained by the Central Bank of Samoa (CBS) and can be contacted for further insurance related matters.

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount  
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2021 $808.3  2021 $843.8
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2021 $20 BEA data available at
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2021 38.8% UNCTAD data available at

* Source for Host Country Data: Samoa Bureau of Statistics – National Accounts Aggregates Annual Analysis 2022. Based on contemporaneous exchange rate of 1 USD=2.71 WST

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

Funefe’ai Dikaiosune Atoa Tamaalii
Political-Economic Specialist
U.S. Embassy, Apia, Samoa
(+685) 21631 X2241

On This Page

  2. 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
    1. Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
    2. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
    3. Other Investment Policy Reviews
    4. Business Facilitation
    5. Outward Investment
  3. 2. Bilateral Investment and Taxation Treaties
  4. 3. Legal Regime
    1. Transparency of the Regulatory System
    2. International Regulatory Considerations
    3. Legal System and Judicial Independence
    4. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
    5. Competition and Antitrust Laws
    6. Expropriation and Compensation
    7. Dispute Settlement
      1. ICSID Convention and New York Convention
      2. Investor-State Dispute Settlement
      3. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
    8. Bankruptcy Regulations
  5. 4. Industrial Policies
    1. Investment Incentives
    2. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
    3. Performance and Data Localization Requirements
  6. 5. Protection of Property Rights
    1. Real Property
    2. Intellectual Property Rights
  7. 6. Financial Sector
    1. Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
    2. Money and Banking System
    3. Foreign Exchange and Remittances
      1. Foreign Exchange
      2. Remittance Policies
    4. Sovereign Wealth Funds
  8. 7. State-Owned Enterprises
    1. Privatization Program
  9. 8. Responsible Business Conduct
    1. Additional Resources
    2. Climate Issues
  10. 9. Corruption
    1. Resources to Report Corruption
  11. 10. Political and Security Environment
  12. 11. Labor Policies and Practices
  13. 12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), and Other Investment Insurance or Development Finance Programs
  14. 13. Foreign Direct Investment Statistics
  15. 14. Contact for More Information
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